Priscilla Bekoe, staff nurse, intensive care unit

How long have you worked at Harefield Hospital? 

I have been a critical care nurse at Harefield’s intensive care unit (ITU) for nearly two years. I find it a great place to work, with very good leadership and a healthy working environment, and I always look forward to working with my colleagues.

Can you describe what you do day-to-day? 

In Harefield’s ITU, we look after some of the sickest patients in the country. My role as a critical care nurse is to provide care to our patients in a safe setting, help save lives and improve patients’ overall health.

Day to day, I provide bedside care to patients and carry out monitoring and thorough assessments, depending on the level of support required. My role is so varied, for example, I support patient nutrition, and sometimes I escort patients to the Harefield grounds for some sunshine therapy, which helps aid their recovery.

One thing I always make sure I do with all of my patients is I chat to them, explain what is happening on the ward and in their treatment, and even speak about things happening outside the hospital. I make sure I do this whether the patient is sedated or awake because I believe this simple human interaction can help in their recovery.

Our patients are looked after by a multidisciplinary team of professionals. I am responsible for implementing and evaluating our patients’ care plan and escalating any issues to the wider clinical team. I’m in constant communication with our patients’ loved ones, providing medical updates or escalating any concerns they may have. It’s really important that we act as an advocate for our patients and their families. I also support families when they visit their loved ones and make them feel welcome on the unit.

Working in critical care, it is really important that I am always ready to quickly respond to critical events and emergencies. As our patients are unwell and highly unstable, anything can happen in a split second, and it is my job to be ready for that.

Image of Priscilla Bekoe in uniform and sitting on a bench

You won the Research Engagement Award in the Trust’s Nursing and Midwifery Awards in 2023, what does this mean to you?

Research is vital to the nursing profession. I used to think that research was only for certain roles, but not anymore.

The research engagement award is the first professional award I have ever received, and it has motivated me to promote research engagement amongst my nursing colleagues, whether that be through face-to-face discussions, or on different social media platforms. I would also like to work with other research champions across the wider Trust.

You have also undertaken a role as ‘Research Champion’ for ITU – what does this involve?

The National Institute for Health Research defines research champions as people who are passionate about getting others involved in research so that they can develop better care and treatment.

As a research champion at Harefield ITU, I am committed to raising awareness of the research opportunities available amongst my colleagues and contributing to promoting a ‘research-based’ culture in the unit.

I attend various research events and update my team on valuable insights and findings. I send upcoming nursing research-related educational programmes, networking events, conferences and critical care journal club updates to the team. I promote awareness of research funding opportunities and support schemes, post relevant articles about nurses’ engagement with research, and publicise ongoing studies and surveys. I also work with nursing colleagues from across the Trust to promote research engagement.

What do you hope to do to further engage with research and education? 

I recently became a member of the Nursing and Midwifery Research Council (NMRC) Staff Advisory Group (SAG) to engage with the views of nurses and midwives at every level across the Trust on how to get more colleagues involved with research. I am also a member of the South-East London critical care network research capacity-building group to support organising and facilitating nursing research in critical care. 

I believe one of the best approaches to enhancing nurses’ confidence in research is through the nursing journal club. The journal club is an opportunity for colleagues to read and discuss relevant research papers and think about how some of the topics could translate into our practice. I plan on advocating for the nursing journal club to extend beyond ITU to across our hospital.

I also believe student nurses and bedside nurses should be given the opportunity to shadow clinical research nurses, audit nurses and other research-related projects on our units.

All of this comes together to support more nurses to gain in-depth knowledge, experience and confidence in research.

What does working for the NHS mean to you? 

For me, working in the NHS is a privilege. It has always been a dream and I am currently living that dream. Knowing that what I am doing as a professional and what I am a part of is saving lives and making an impact in the lives of people is surreal. I am humbled each day to be a part of this incredible organisation.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in the NHS? 

I would advise you to explore your options in the NHS. The NHS is broad with many opportunities, and your career path might not be linear as you think!

Speaking as an international nurse, I believe there is no limit to what you can do in the NHS. Do not be afraid to take on roles as there are lots of support systems available within the organisation. Communicate your visions to your manager and other senior members—their experience and advice could come in handy. Network with your colleagues and others within the team. Have a mindset of making an impact and actively involve yourself in projects on the ward – you learn a lot this way.

You were selected as one of the Trust members of staff to represent and attend the NHS’ 75th birthday celebrations at Westminster Abbey. How does this make you feel? 

Honestly, words cannot describe how I feel. It is a great honour and privilege to be among the five staff selected to represent Guy’s and St. Thomas NHS Trust at the prestigious 75th anniversary of the National Health Service at Westminster Abbey. Thank you for this great opportunity!